… says negotiation hasn’t started
By Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Communications Technology, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, has said that it will not be in the interest of Nigeria to send the leading telecom company in the country, MTN Nigeria, packing from the country.
The Minister stated this on Thursday while reacting to the allegation of plot by Federal Government to strangulate the telecom company through the ongoing N1.04 trillion saga by the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Shittu said it would be most unfair for some Nigerians to accuse government of having such plans, when in reality, MTN had made remarkable contribution to the socio-economic development of the country since its inception in Nigeria.
‘‘We do not want anybody to have the impression that Nigerian government wants to kill MTN, it is not in the best interest of Nigeria to kill MTN. MTN is a Nigerian company, most of their shareholders are Nigerians, it is registered as Nigerian company in the interest of Nigerians.
‘‘They even brought libration to us in the area of GSM operation when we had less than 500,000 line in a population of 150 million people. When we wanted to go digital (GSM), they were one of the few companies that successfully exploded into Nigerian ecosystem.
‘‘They also made life easier for us. They have been paying tax, and Nigerians have been employed. So, we don’t want to kill MTN. But that is not to say that when infractions have been committed, that sanctions will not follow. If sanctions follow, and there are disputes around it, it will be resolved.’’
On why the matter has lingered too long, he said, ‘‘it is not as if the dispute will not end. I see the concern they have shown, whether they have shown commitment to resolve the dispute, my position is that negotiations have not started at all. What the Ministry of Justice did is to get them show commitment for the real negotiation.
‘‘They have done both pre-conditions, and if they have done both, the next thing is to sit at the negotiation table to start negotiation.’’
While calling for restraints on the speculation, the Minister urged the public to always get the facts right before jumping into conclusion, insisting that the N50 billion payment by MTN was consequent upon their fulfillment of the preconditions given to them by the Ministry of Justice.